But first, the soundtrack
Of course, no overcast walk would be complete without the perfect, appropriately moody soundtrack. Why not click play to set the scene while you scroll?
The early morning was cold and wet. It was the type of weather where anyone would rather stay in bed than walk around Canberra’s second most famous lake.
But I had made a promise to myself, that I would walk the whole lake Ginninderra circuit. I would normally walk part way around it, get tired or my headphones would die and I’d walk back.
The thing about walking around a lake is you can’t take shortcuts, you can’t go the easier route or take an exit. There is one path and you either have to follow it to its conclusion or turn around and retrace your steps home.
Why do we walk?
Ever since humans evolved to stand upright, walking has come very naturally to us. Going for a walk is a great way to isolate ourselves from our lives and problems. It puts things in perspective and makes our small anxieties or worries seem easier to overcome.
In the introduction to his book ‘In praise of walking‘ neuroscientist Shane O’Mara points out “Walking provides a multi sensory reading of the world in all its shapes, forms, sounds and feelings, for it uses the brain in multiple ways.”
Walks can spark creativity. They can give you inspiration for that assignment that just doesn’t want to get done, or the motivation you need to reply to those texts you’ve been neglecting.
While walking a long path alone, you might get to know yourself better. I was about half way around the lake when it started to rain. I was at the point where it would take just as long to turn around and walk back, as it would to continue on.
As a more indoorsy person, I don’t enjoy the feeling of cold wind and rain when I had only just woken up. But, I pushed on.
It’s okay to stop
Sometimes it’s the stops that can benefit the mind, even more than the walking itself. On the Lake Ginninderra circuit, there are many points with a bench and a gap in the trees to sit and relax. It’s these moments where you can stop for just thirty seconds, look across the lake and say to yourself “I was just there” or “I’m going to be there”.
It doesn’t matter how frequent or for how long, stopping can add chapters to an otherwise regular walk.
The fog that morning was thick and made it difficult to see landmarks in the distance. There was something powerful about not exactly knowing where you are.
At times it seemed like I was walking away from the lake. But, I trusted the path and it eventually lead me back on course.
I had never made it this far before, I did not know what was on the other side of the lake. I discovered cool spots and pieces of art that I had no idea existed. There was even a scaled-down road network for children to learn to ride their bikes with accurate street signs.
I walked across the bridge that I drive on to get to work every day. It took me a second to realise it was the same lake. I had never noticed that the bridge had such an amazing view.
Notice the Nature
I’m guilty of taking nature for granted. On my walk, I caught myself looking down while I walked, taking the occasional photo and then proceeding to stare at my shoes and the pavement.
It wasn’t the most beautiful of days, however, the spitting rain and dark clouds made it more interesting. I saw birds snacking on the worms in the mud. Some trees had collapsed after a stormy weekend creating some intriguing views. Rabbits sat shivering, hoping that the rain would pass.
I felt like I was seeing the more hidden side of nature.
Don’t just count your steps
Tracking your walk with a pedometer app or a fitbit watch is undoubtedly fun. But, obsessing about the quantity of steps can distract from the purpose of your walk. It can become a chore.
To make the most of your walk. The exercise should be a satisfying side effect. I don’t like to keep track of my pace during the walk. That being said, my walk can be viewed on Strava below:
Going for a long walk can benefit many areas of your life. It can clear your mind, or it can prepare you for a busy day. It is exercise, but you don’t have to put too much pressure on yourself. You can go at your own pace, however far you want and at any time. I really made the most of this overcast early morning walk.